Donald Trump attacked social media companies after Facebook banned several high-profile right-wing extremists, saying he was “monitoring and watching, closely!!”
The US president retweeted a series of complaints about the “censorship” of figures like conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and former Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos, whose accounts were removed from Facebook earlier this week.
Louis Farrakhan, Paul Nehlen, Laura Loomer and Paul Joseph Watson were also booted off, with Facebook designating them as “dangerous individuals” who “promote or engage in violence and hate”.
Mr Trump tweeted: “I am continuing to monitor the censorship of AMERICAN CITIZENS on social media platforms. This is the United States of America – and we have what’s known as FREEDOM OF SPEECH! We are monitoring and watching, closely!!”
I am continuing to monitor the censorship of AMERICAN CITIZENS on social media platforms. This is the United States of America — and we have what’s known as FREEDOM OF SPEECH! We are monitoring and watching, closely!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2019
The president – who has repeatedly asserted that social media companies are bias against conservatives – also tweeted to criticise Twitter itself over its decision to suspend the account of outspoken actor James Woods.
He said: “How can it be possible that James Woods (and many others), a strong but responsible Conservative Voice, is banned from Twitter? Social Media & Fake News Media, together with their partner, the Democrat Party, have no idea the problems they are causing for themselves. VERY UNFAIR!”
Facebook said it bans individuals and organisations that violate its terms of service “regardless of ideology”, while Twitter said Woods would need to delete a tweet that broke its rules before his account could be unlocked.
But Infowars host Jones, fellow conspiracy theorist Loomer, British writer Yiannopoulos, American black nationalist Farrakhan, white supremacist Nehlen, and English YouTube personality Watson will likely all remain banned from Facebook, and they have also been barred from Instagram.
Social networks have been under pressure from civil rights groups to clamp down on hate speech on their services.
Mr Trump – a notoriously keen Twitter user with more than 60 million followers – recently met with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey at the White House to voice his complaints that he was untreated unfairly on the platform because he was a Republican.
He later described it as a “great meeting”.